23 January 2012 § 2 Comments
Went to my first real yoga class today. Took a test at Habla Ya, the local language school, and felt awesome on the pre-test because I knew almost all the answers – that is, until the cute teacher took me into an upstairs room to give me a private ‘demo lesson.’ Of all the times for my Spanish to fail me. At least I understood everything she said, which was quite a bit. After that five-minute infatuation, which I knew even then I wouldn’t follow up on, simply because I don’t have $250 a week to drop on formal conversation and the tendency to be corrected every six and a half words, I met the lady whose property I’ll be working on for most of my volunteer project. The family from Vail and Martha’s Vineyard haunted the pretty coffeeshop in the Floridaesque plaza, friendly as bees and birds, buzzing on four-dollar cups of chocolate caffeine.
I’m in this place. I am a “volunteer” in an organization not so much bent on trying to change the world (not even Obama can do that, apparently), but more focused on people changing themselves, so they – we – can go out into the world and “be the change,” as the saying goes.
I’m in this place, and subject to people who have reached a higher state of being than I. I’m in this place, and joining in the activities that young money and yogis live daily. I feel like I could be one day friends with these people, who I think occasionally miss my cynicism but call me cheeky anyway. I am friends with these people, who seem to know that the way to my heart is a thought-provoking film followed by Lebanese food and hookah and Farkle, which is a strange dice game played by people who like each other as human beings. I am in this place, and I want nothing more than to be in this place.
One of these people, whom I realized then was of the generation I always vibed with best – the 20-something crowd from the mid-nineties, who are pushing forty now and showing no signs of ever having hit thirty – said that now and then he has the thought that “wow, I live in Panama!”
Nevermind that 25,000 other US Americans can say that. Mind that I kind of want to be one of them. I’ve been in Boquete a week, under the guise of exploring Central America with Heather, with whom I’ve weaved life since last summer, lifetimes ago, but also living up to a promise I made myself in Zadar a year ago: travel with intent. Learn where you are, and learn why they are they way they are. Speak the language, wherever it is, and Be There. Be Here. I’m doing that. Absolutely intentionally.
Today I thought: I’m living. Here. Now. I am here, and I love what I’m doing. It feels like I’m high and I’ve come to a realization that no one’s ever figured out before. That I’ve never thought of, and that when I come down from this, I’ll realize it was a stupid and worthless thought, and it was just the drugs talking. Right.
But I’m not on drugs. And for a big change in my travels, I feel that maybe I can accomplish something for myself. That “wanting to be a better person” idea doesn’t have to be one of those bullshit thoughts which seems as revelatory as Jesus Christ frozen on a popsicle, sucking the life out of the party. Whatever. This feels right. And whatever the future is or becomes or wants to be, it can be, will be. But I’m not there now. I’m here, and happy for it.
18 January 2012 § Leave a comment
If I’m always seeking out new experiences, how can I presume to turn away what they offer me based on some illusion of prior knowledge? I don’t know myself so well as to know how I will react to any given situation, and I doubt I’m the only one with that trait. It is widespread. what kind of spark do I need to feel as if I’d be doing what I should be – that is, doing something that seemed to matter, both to me and those around me? What have I stood on the sidelines, indeed even avoided being a part of the revolutions and protests which have swept the world in the past year? Surely I could contribute to the causes which bring proud tears to me eyes even as i read the mainstream media’s take on the movements, let alone the rare times i have braved my disappointment in myself for joining them to read and watch what’s happening on the ground in New York, Oakland, Madrid, Moscow, or any given Arab state (some now formerly) of ’emergency.’
Emergency, indeed – of the people! The flaws of modern civilization, in both the free world and the repressed, are under microscope and spotlight; their creators, propagators, and beneficiaries are being called out and are doing everything they can to keep a rapidly changing world the same as it never really was. To continue the ever-widening division between them and the people who unwittingly support them, to value still their wealth of cash which is subject to inflation but perhaps not to taxes – this cannot endure. Will not endure. 2011 was the first year of a struggle which will divide – has already divided – people from their governments, and governments from the principles on which they were established.
In the Arab world, last spring proved to the so-called leaders of nations that fear tactics and oppression are no longer affective ways to hold power. the United States’ law enforcement agencies’ violent reactions to the peaceful Occupy movement showed the world just how much integrity we hold for the Constitution and our Bill of rights, which people flock to be protected by, and point fingers at the first amendment while addressing a media so influenced and unfree that not only is it severely biased but flaunts bald-faced lies to an ignorant public it wishes to remain so.
It very well may be that every fifty years or so, some massive protest uprises from the people, and that such demonstrations are needed to tilt the wheel of power – to keep those wielding it from writing themselves into history as dignified and flawless leaders of a perfect world while manipulating that passive, ignorant public and crushing those courageous enough to call for truth (who are sometimes called dissenters, other times protestors, and later revolutionaries, patriots, and leaders), show their peers the reason for the semicentennial consistency.
However, when one generation demands change, and later, when they’ve fought their battles and won, integrates the characteristics of that protested, supposedly broken system they waned so badly to change into the society they themselves inherited, they are equal to the freedomfighters-turned-dictators willing, able, and happy to massacre those they vowed to free, protect, and enrich.
Why must their children wait until they grey in golden palaces to realize what they’ve done? Why have we waited through – waded through – ten years of war to stand up and say something, united? What fear had we before? How many illegal laws must the Senate pass on to an unfortunately ineffective president for the people to rise from their recliners to protect the rights they claim so fervently they enjoy? how can we support our armed forces who fight wars which do not protect our expensive freedoms but serve only those who can afford to buy them?
My generation fought the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My friends and schoolmates signed up for the front lines because we were being sold the idea of patriotism and freedom. With fires in their conditioned minds, they made their marks on dotted lines without so much as a post-it note of truth of what they were really fighting for. Some of them called me a coward for not doing the same.
And what have either of us accomplished, they, the fighters and puppets of political, cash wars, and I, the reluctant, invisibly supportive protestor, who has the same fear of being caged for something I believe in as well as for fighting for something I don’t? Nothing.
Therefore, there is only one answer to the unasked questions of those who govern the system we for some reason support – perhaps because we once superficially benefitted from it, or continue to have faith that a crashed economy will fix itself on the fundamental principles on which it was built, or maybe even on feel-good pep talks from Obama. Amongst those silent inquiries are Is This Working For You? and What Do You Want, If Not This? – an answer to which we must come up with to initiate any lasting change.
It is not enough to state only what we do not want, for the health of a movement depends as much on the solution to the problem as the courage of the people to not run away when the police shows up to shut them down. People must demand action, and change, and be willing to not only stand in the streets with signs proclaiming the faults on society with cardboard signs, but also to create something new from the ashes of the system they are slowly but surely burning down.
11 January 2012 § Leave a comment
Right now I’m signing up on findacrew.net, which is apparently a search base for sailing and other types of vessels to, guess what, find a crew. I am at the whim of the waves and wind as to direction right now – one day I thought I would be cityhopping again, in countries I now have a vague want to go to – to improve my Spanish, to pass through dingy passport stations opposite rickty bridges in the midst of muddy rivers and civilizationdooming banana plantations. I don’t know where I’m going. Here, in Bocas del Toro, is a reunion of a couchsurfing meetup somewhere in the Yukon near Whitehorse, some six months and __ lifetimes ago. Heather is here, and three days after meeting her again I’m still wondering about why it felt no natural as soon as I soon her, that she’d been here the whole time, that four months just disappeared but in which we transformed and thought ourselves into new existences and it was double the time that I’d known her that I didn’t see her, and how organic was our melding into the home of Ian Usher, the man who sold his life on ebay, and his family of the Canadian dog musher Moe, and her two wonderful kids to think that the last howevermanythousandmiles just didn’t happen, but then what new stories would we have to share? Everything we know about one another is from our travelstories, of our musing over Ian’s fifteen minutes of fame (which he tolerates and jokes about in his britishhumble manner), of further adventures, whether they be over land or sea now, and what will come of 2012 before I’m off to Alaska to fish again?
Since the beginning of this year, my mind has been in a quiet recovery from all the writing and supposed ‘rest’ I had in San Jose before I left. I’m a blank slate for ideas, past the Missing and the Want for the familiar, for my friends, for ‘home,’ and for the Pull to Travel. I want to keep going, and will, but for now do so more because I said I wanted to so many months ago rather than because I want to now. I want to find something worth holding onto. Perhaps I already have, and can’t or won’t admit it yet. But the search is the journey, which is far more fun – even in this state of limbo – than enduring the Alaskan winter, a regular job, another semester of introverted silence and wondering what I’d be doing out here. Here, where I am. What am I waiting for?
3 January 2012 § 4 Comments
Maybe this is getting old, this ¨Hey, I’m off into the Unknown. Again.¨ revelation. I don’t know what I can say here, to be honest – a good friend recently challenged the entire existence of Structured Roots, which is more than a ‘blog’ (what a disgusting word) and more like my only connection to the rest of the world – it is now my photogallery (corrientmente sin colores) and literature station, if you could call it that.
If the apocalypse came, and we lost electricity and computers and facebook and all this unnecessary garbage, what would it be worth? Not much, obviously, but lifestyles and healthy diets and daily workout routines exist because some of us have the luxury of having them. Some people drive Hummers to the grocery store. Why? For the same reason those two drunk guys in Las Vegas left one casino for the Excalibur. Why are we going to the Excalibur, he asked his more-drunk friend – because we fucking can.
And that’s not necessarily a good enough reason for me to do anything, granted, though I could argue it anyway. The reason the Occupy Wall Street movement exists because it has the right to, just like the U.S. media, who is only forward and direct and honest when it serves them, has the right to ignore them.
What am I saying? I’m in a half-sick haze and about to get on a bus for the Caribbean, without much of an idea where I’m going to sleep tonight. Bocas del Toro, where I’m headed, is too far to make it in one day – I’m tall, and long bus rides are mildly torturous for me – so I may stop on the way and chill on the beach for the night. What a hard life I have.
If only I was content with it, I could be at peace like normal people, and be able to live in the same little town all my life, get married and own a house and four dogs and a cat who only came back to eat and sleep with one leg hanging off the roof. I could go to work and on the way home have a beer with my friends from high school and bullshit about… well, whatever those people bullshit about. I wouldn’t have the need or desire to find revolutionary literature to occupy my time and mental energy with, and I wouldn’t read International Business textbooks to kill time. I could just be.
Even now, thousand of miles from wherever I chose to call home this week, I’m still looking, still writing, taking up challenges which could inject just the right amount of inner turmoil to make me smile when someone walks away, and practicing pieces for the stage that I imagine reading when I’m done with all of this, and have something to share from it.
They must think the gringo who talks to himself while he walks around Barrio Córdoba is crazy. And maybe he is. But he doesn’t care what you think; he just has occasional pangs of envy that you can stand behind your caged houses and still smile.
I’m looking forward to this. I really am.